The Dominion Theatre rocks with Casio's EPoS

Casio Electronics Ltd has announced that top West End theatre, The Dominion, has selected Casio's QT-6600 EPoS system for their merchandise and hospitality fulfilment needs. With a history that spans from 1929, The Dominion Theatre is firmly established as one of the UK's top theatre venues with a 2000 strong audience enjoying packed daily performances from within the theatre's art deco auditorium. Home to many top West End productions over the years, the Dominion has been a proud host to the smash musical, "We Will Rock You" for the past nine years.  During peak periods throughout the year, the theatre hosts two shows per day, six days per week and even on Sundays when there is no production, the theatre remains alive with four Hillsong Church services.

Future ongoing expansion of the Theatre lies with incremental sales gained from additional purchases and the provision of full onsite event management services. From programme sales; to interval ice creams and drinks; to a whole catalogue of We Will Rock You merchandise; the team of 45 front-of-house staff offer an extensive range of top quality items for theatre goers to purchase.  Mark Satchell, Theatre Manager at the Dominion, outlines how the former system was beginning to fall short of requirements:-

"For the past nine years we had been using a robust, but fairly basic EPoS system to fulfil our business needs. That's a long time to have any technology system in place and cracks were beginning to show. Our biggest issue was adding new stock lines which had to be uploaded centrally and offsite, sometimes entailing delays of around a week before the item showed on the Dominion system. This meant that we had to store stock before we could sell it. Sometimes we would try and get round this by swapping the tills redundant line items for the new stock item, but reconciling till buttons that displayed a different stock item would throw up all sorts of issues in terms of incorrect entry and future stock procurement."

The Team were also keen to expand further into the private events hospitality market, including privately hosted events so they needed to be able to offer centralised billing; table billing and provide merchandise that was automatically reconciled to clients' invoices. The final catalyst for change resulted after credit cards failed to be accepted by the existing terminals with an obvious negative impact on sales as operators were forced to accept cash only payments.  Mark comments, "We have a relatively short sales window of around 75 minutes each performance and within this time without credit card payments for merchandise, people would have to source cash from nearby ATMs. Frustratingly, this situation remained unresolved for six months."

So in April 2010, Mark began the process of identifying a new EPoS solution. Whilst the theatre's IT infrastructure partner, EuroData, reviewed the CAT-5 cabling environment, Mark and the team explored all available solutions on the market. They shortlisted Casio's QT-6600 for further evaluation and a full demonstration unit was supplied by Casio.  The unit's ergonomics provided a compelling reason for shortlisting the QT-6600 is designed specifically for use within the hospitality market with a 15" colour touchscreen display that is optimal even in the dim lighting conditions of a theatre foyer.  Most importantly with 45 casual staff each performance, the unit has intuitive operator use. Sitting behind the unit is the Casio Business Management Solution software (CBMS), primarily designed to optimise staff and department productivity together with effective management reporting and stock control.  To further customise needs, MicroTill, specialists in the provision of many high end hospitality customers including Crystal Palace FC, were introduced to provide a bespoke Dominion Theatre solution.

The Solution: The show must go on!
Selecting the best install period was challenging as the theatre operates every day except Christmas Day, with the busiest peak in the immediate week prior to festive holiday when the theatre stages a staggering 12 performances.

"Changing our EPoS system at the beginning of December just prior to our busiest peak period could have been viewed as a challenging gamble, but by then, we were totally assured that the combined skill and advice provided by Casio and MicroTill would allow a flawless installation enabling better customer servicing through the busiest weeks of the year."

It was a justified decision. Uplift of the stock items was rapidly and easily transferred by the MicoTill engineers. Onsite training of the team took just thirty minutes as they easily took to the large touch screen with a separate PDQ device attached (supplied by the Dominion's bank).

On the install day, the 17 units were assembled in the foyer and seamlessly deployed onto the existing network.

Three months down the line, Mark is now able to accurately reflect on the monumental change that has affected the procurement and sales process at the Dominion with the use of the Casio QT-6600 units. Mark continues, "Our initial requirement of being able to easily add the latest stock items has certainly been addressed. Using the CBMS software within the unit allows us internally to upload items on the spot it takes us about ten minutes per item and that upload time is decreasing further still with each upload. Auto screen prompts reassure us that we have uploaded each item correctly."

Customers also enjoy better clarity of their purchases, as even in dim lighting conditions, each QT-6600 has a large customer display spread across two lines with large characters.

Regarding the hospitality requirements, the QT-6600 has really come into its own, creating individual and group order receipts, table bills and receipts for refreshments. The front of house and events management team can now drill down per register, per employee and per designated floor space, so they can best match productivity and demand.

"The ability to drill down has given an increased depth to our ability to manage staff. At the Theatre we understand that accurate training and incentivising front of house staff are important elements of career development and the enhanced sales experience. We can tell, for instance, if a particular member of staff is struggling with inputs the number of voids highlights the requirement for extra training. We can also now accurately put in place staff incentives which encourage upselling and reward incremental sales."

In summary
Mark surmises, "What we have achieved with the move to the Casio QT-6600s and the support from MicroTill, is a monumental shift from the operating in the dark ages to bringing the theatre right into the 21st century. The EPoS system has been a significant investment in the ongoing expansion of the Theatre and has allowed easy use, robust equipment that represents value for money that we simply could no longer be without."

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